What are YOU gonna do about a household chemical emergency?

April 29, 2013

Today’s musing involves chemicals since they are all around us. Just take a moment to think about all the cleaners, chemicals and hazardous materials scattered throughout your home, garage and workshop.

Check for toxic products

When you have some time, snoop around your home and garage and read the labels on all products to ensure you are using, storing and disposing of the material according to the manufacturer’s directions. Many products like oil based paints (including stains, strippers and varnishes); household cleaners, automotive products, lighter fluid and other fuels, pesticides, fertilizers and other yard products contain hazardous components. They will be identified by such words as “warning, ” “danger,” “toxic,” “corrosive,” “irritant,” “flammable” or “caution” found on their labels.

It is critical to store household chemicals in places where children and pets cannot access them. Pay special to containers with the skull and crossbones which is used to indicate the presence of a poisonous chemical. If you see this symbol on a household product, pay attention to the warning. And remember products such as aerosol cans of hair spray and deodorant, nail polish and nail polish remover, toilet bowl cleaners and furniture polishes all fall into the category of hazardous materials too.

Did you know…

  • as many as 500,000 products pose physical or health hazards and can be defined as “hazardous materials” and over 1,000 new synthetic chemicals are introduced each year?!
  • the average U.S. household generates more than 20 pounds of household hazardous waste per year. As much as 100 pounds can accumulate in the home, often remaining there until the residents move out or do an extensive cleanout?! – EPA
  • more than 7 million accidental poisonings occur each year, with more than 75% involving children under age 6?! —The Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons
  • according to the U.S. Poison Control Centers, “A child is accidentally poisoned every 30 seconds at home…” —”Prosperity Without Pollution,” by Joel S. Hirschorn and Kirsten V. Oldenburg, 1991
  • of chemicals commonly found in homes, 150 have been linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer, and psychological abnormalities. — Consumer Product Safety Commission

BEFORE A HOUSEHOLD CHEMICAL EMERGENCY:

Learn risks – Call your local public health department or the Environmental Protection Agency for information about hazardous household materials. And check out the National Library of Medicine’s Household Products Database that provides information on over 12,000 common household products and their potential health effects at http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/

The database is designed to help answer the following typical questions and more:

  • What are the chemical ingredients and their percentage in specific brands?
  • Which products contain specific chemical ingredients?
  • Who manufactures a specific brand? How do I contact this manufacturer?
  • What are the acute and chronic effects of chemical ingredients in a specific brand?

Read labels – Always read product labels for proper use, safe storage and disposal of chemicals.

Don’t dump it – Many used or unwanted products dumped down the sink, poured down a storm drain, tossed in the trash or poured on the ground often wind up in nearby rivers, streams or ground water where they can be toxic to humans and aquatic life, even at low concentrations. And those products could disrupt your septic system or contaminate treatment plant sludge. Learn how to dispose of used liquids and containers in advance.

Recycle it? – Call your local recycling center or collection site to ask what chemicals can be recycled or dropped off for disposal — many centers take things like car batteries, oil, tires, paint or thinners, etc. And many communities setup household hazardous waste (HHW) collection programs throughout the year.

Store it – Keep all chemicals and household cleaners in safe, secure locations out of reach of small children.

Put it out – Don’t smoke while using household chemicals.

Consider using non-toxic solutions – Look for “green” and non-toxic products that say petroleum-free, biodegradable, septic safe, phosphate-free, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)-free, and solvent-free. And find more resources below.

DURING A HOUSEHOLD CHEMICAL EMERGENCY:

Call for help – Call your local Poison Control Center (or 1-800-222-1222), 9-1-1, fire department, hospital or emergency medical services. If possible, have container handy since medical professionals may need specific data from label.

First aid tips – Follow instructions on label and be prepared to perform first aid on the victim (e.g. eye or body rinsing, rescue breathing (but have a mouth guard handy), open windows and move away from the scene if there’s a strong odor or vapors, etc.)

Things to watch for if a chemical is swallowed…

Burns on the mouth, tongue and lips
Stomach pains
Open cabinets; spilled or open containers
Difficulty breathing
Convulsions or seizures
Weakness or dizziness
Passed out

What to do…

  • Stay calm and find out exactly what, how much, and how long ago it was swallowed.
  • Call Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222 in the U.S.) or an ambulance and have bottle or container handy (if possible).
  • NEVER give victim anything to eat or drink unless told to do so by Poison Control Center or a Medical professional!!
  • If victim pukes, lay them on their side to keep airway open. Save a sample of the vomit IF the poison is unknown so the hospital can try to identify it.
  • If victim isn’t breathing consider doing Rescue Breathing – but ONLY if sure poison cannot be spread person to person or if you have a mouth shield or mask to avoid cross contamination.

CPR mouth shield                 CPR mouth shield

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents no longer use syrup of ipecac (pronounced ip’- î – kak) as a poison treatment intervention in the home. Immediately contact local Poison Control Center for help.

If you decide to keep a few 1 ounce bottles in your First Aid Kit … use ONLY on the advice of a Medical professional or the Poison Control Center! Syrup of ipecac is sold by most pharmacies without a prescription and used to induce vomiting (makes you puke) — again, use only if instructed to do so.

Above extracted from IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? by Bill and Janet Liebsch

Clean naturally

There are tons of blogs and sites with tips on making non-toxic cleaners for your home so consider doing some research about using simple household products like baking soda, vinegar, liquid detergent, lemon juice, essential oils and other items to clean naturally … and save money!

For example, check out…

About.com Frugal Living 
Care2 Make a Difference
Non-Toxic.info 
OrganizedHome.com
SimpleHomemade.net 

Stay safe and have a great week! 🙂 j & B

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Friday Fotos: Twinkle, Twinkle Little… Glowworm?

April 26, 2013

glowwormsThere are so many glowworms that live in New Zealand’s Waitomo caves visitors will feel like they’re looking up at a night sky rather than cave walls.

The 300 cave system has been around for millions of years, and the starry night vibe is there thanks to the Arachnocampa luminosa, a glowworm species only found in New Zealand, GrindTV reports.

Waitomo.com explains the Waitomo Glowworm Caves were first explored in 1887 by local Maori Chief Tane Tinorau accompanied by an English surveyor Fred Mace.  They built a raft of flax stems and with candles as their only lighting, floated into the cave where the stream goes underground.

As they entered the caves, their first discovery was the Glowworm Grotto with its myriad of tiny bright lights dotting the cave ceiling. As their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they saw a multitude of lights reflecting off the water. Looking up, they discovered that the ceilings were dotted with the lights of thousands of glowworms.

New Zealand glowworm cave

Photo: Spellbound Tours

According to The Visa Centre, the easiest way to travel the caves is by boat or you can also walk through the caves along well-formed paths and stairways. And, if you’re a thrill seeker, you can experience the thrill of black water rafting or zip lining through the same caves.

New Zealand Waitomo glowworm cave

Photo: Waitomo.com

Spellbound Glowworm & Cave Tours says these glowworms live all over New Zealand; they’re very common and found in forest settings, usually under overhanging stream banks . Where conditions are suitable they live in caves and can colonise cave ceilings in impressive numbers. Glowworms can turn off their lights when there is too much bright light from another source, or to ‘hide’ if disturbed.

Image by James Dooley

But the glowworms are best known for their magnificent luminescent displays as visitors meander through the Waitomo caves.

New Zealand Waitomo glow worm cave

Photo: SpotCoolStuff.com

New Zealand Waitomo glowworm cave

Photo: Spellbound Tours

Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂  j & B


West, Texas Firefighter and EMS Fallen Hero Fund

April 23, 2013

We wanted to share this news item from the NFFF website … and continuing to send our thoughts and prayers to all those lost and affected in last week’s plant explosion.

In light of the tragic event in West, Texas on Wednesday and in cooperation with local support efforts, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has established a national fund to accept monetary donations to assist the survivors and coworkers of the fire and EMS personnel who died in the line of duty.

Checks can be mailed to:

NFFF c/o West, Texas Fire and EMS Fallen Hero Fund
P.O. Drawer 498
Emmitsburg, MD 21727.

Donations also can be made by credit card at www.regonline.com/westtx. All donated funds will be used to assist the survivors and coworkers to rebuild their lives and support the programs and services they will need.

As a result of the blast, the station along with the apparatus, equipment and turn-out gear were destroyed or badly damaged. If you would like to donate these items, please send a message with your contact information to www.firehero.org/contact and the Foundation will share this with the West, Texas department.

“This fire and explosion have devastated the entire town in which so many people know and care about each other,” said Chief Ron Siarnicki, executive director of the NFFF. “We want to ensure the survivors and coworkers of those who died in the line of duty know that the entire fire service family is holding them in our hearts and doing all we can to offer support.”

As part of the Foundation’s mission to assist the survivors of the fallen, the Texas LAST (Local Assistance State Team) was activated on Wednesday night to provide support to local officials and public safety personnel in West.

The United States Congress created the NFFF to lead a nationwide effort to remember America’s fallen firefighters. Since 1992, the non-profit foundation has developed and expanded programs to honor fallen fire heroes and assist their families and coworkers. The NFFF also works closely with the U.S. Fire Administration to help prevent and reduce line-of- duty deaths and injuries. For more information on the Foundation and its programs contact us at 301-447-1365 or visit www.firehero.org.


Um … oops … hazardous materials accidents (and a link to some safety tips)

April 19, 2013

Major chemical accidents like the recent fertilizer plant explosion in Texas seem most threatening because they often kill people outright, however it is the smaller, more routine accidents and spills that affect most people.

Some of the most common spills involve tanker trucks and railroad tankers containing gasoline, chlorine, acid, or other industrial chemicals. Many spills occur during the transportation of hazardous materials. For example, in 2012, spills from 12,995 highway and 665 railroad accidents resulted in 11 deaths, 160 injuries, and damages exceeding more than $73 million.

The Spills and Accidents database contains statistics on toxic chemical spills and other accidents reported to the National Response Center (NRC … formerly called ERNS, the Emergency Response Notification System). The database shows that 28,591 accidents involving toxic chemicals were reported to the NRC in 2012, meaning that on average, some type of toxic chemical accident was reported 78 times a day in the U.S., or nearly 3 times per hour.

Did you know…

  • as many as 500,000 products pose physical or health hazards and can be defined as “hazardous materials” and over 1,000 new synthetic chemicals are introduced each year?!
  • each year about 400 million metric tons of hazardous wastes are generated worldwide?!
  • according to FEMA, varying quantities of hazardous materials are manufactured, used, or stored at an estimated 4.5 million facilities in the U.S.?!

Hazardous materials can range from waste produced by a petroleum refinery to materials used by the dry cleaners to pesticides stored in your home. And, although the chemical industry has a good safety record, accidents and chemical spills happen and toxic materials may be released into the air and water.

Visit USFRA to learn what to do when a hazardous materials incident affects your community and scroll down to see some hazmat related photos.

Explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas – on Wednesday the explosion killed 14 and injured about 200 with 60 people still unaccounted for as of today. Following the accident, one of the immediate fears was that the accident had released large amounts of ammonia gas, which can cause breathing difficulties or suffocation. (Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those impacted by this tragic accident.)

West Texas fertilizer plant fire

REUTERS / Mike Stone

Texas City disaster – the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history took place on April 16, 1947, and began with a mid-morning fire on board the French-registered vessel SS Grandcamp which was docked in the Port of Texas City. The fire detonated approximately 2,300 tons (2,086,100 kg) of ammonium nitrate and the resulting chain reaction of fires and explosions killed at least 581 people, including all but one member of the Texas City fire department.

The blast leveled nearly 1,000 buildings on land and sightseeing airplanes flying nearby had their wings shorn off, forcing them out of the sky. Ten miles away, people in Galveston were forced to their knees; windows were shattered in Houston, 40 miles (60 km) away. People felt the shock 100 miles away in Louisiana. Source: Wikipedia

Cataño oil refinery fire – a massive fire and explosion sent huge flames and smoke plumes into the air at the Carribean Petroleum Corporation near San Juan, Puerto Rico. Amazingly there were no fatalities, but 3 people were injured.

Catano oil refinery explosion and fire in Puerto Rico

Train derailment in NJ – four cars (including 3 in the water) contained vinyl chloride which can induce respiratory problems, dizziness and other health effects after short-term exposure — and liver problems and other complications after high levels of exposure over time.

chemical spill due to NJ train derailment

Deepwater Horizon oil spill – Following the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which claimed 11 lives on 20-April-2010, a sea-floor oil gusher flowed unabated for 87 days, until it was capped. The total discharge is estimated at 4.9 million barrels (210 million US gal; 780,000 m3). After several failed efforts to contain the flow, the well was declared sealed on 19-September-2010. Source: Wikipedia

Again .. find some more resources below … and have a safe weekend! j & B

Additional Sources:

US Chemical Safety Board
DOT PHMSA Hazmat Intelligence Portal
Right to Know Network
PollutionIssues.com


Would you know what to do if you or your office received a Bomb threat or suspicious package?

April 17, 2013

The other day we posted What would YOU do if a bomb or explosive device goes off..? (Safety tips on dealing with an explosion) and wanted to provide some information about both bomb threats and suspicious packages from our IT’S A DISASTER! book.

What if you or your office receives a “bomb threat”?

Bomb threats are usually received by a telephone call or in the mail.

In the event you or someone in your office receives a bomb threat, do the following…

  • If you ever receive a bomb threat over the phone, get as much information from the caller as possible (e.g. what kind of bomb, what does it look like, where is it, when will it go off, etc.)
  • Try to keep caller on the phone as long as you can and write down everything that is said! (Since you’ll most likely be nervous or scared, good notes will be extremely helpful to officials later.)
  • Notify the police and building management.
  • Calmly evacuate the building, keep the sidewalks clear and stay away from windows.

What if you or someone in your office receives a “suspicious package”?

According to the United States Postal Service, the likelihood of you ever receiving a bomb in the mail is remote. But there have been a small number of explosive devices and biological agents that have surfaced in the mail over the years.

Some possible motives for an individual or group sending a “suspicious package” include revenge, extortion, love triangles, terrorism, and business (or potentially political) disputes.

The following are some unique signs or characteristics from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service that may help identify a “suspect” piece of mail…

  • Package may have restricted markings like “Personal” or “Private” to one who doesn’t receive personal mail at office or to someone no longer working there.
  • Package is sealed with excessive amounts of tape or has way too much postage on it.
  • Postmark city different than Return Address city.
  • Misspelled words, written badly or done with letters cut from newspaper or magazine and pasted on.
  • Package has wires or aluminum foil sticking out, oil stains, smells weird or sounds funny (sloshing noise).
  • Package may feel strange or look uneven or lopsided.

If you are unsure about a letter or package and are not able to verify the Sender or contents with the person it is addressed to then…

  • DO NOT open it, shake it, bump it or sniff it!
  • Cover it with a shirt, trash can or whatever is handy.
  • Evacuate the area quickly and calmly.
  • Wash your hands with lots of soap and water.
  • Call building security, 911 and your postal inspector.
  • List all the people who were near the package or letter in case they are needed for further questioning.

USPS poster about suspicious mail or packages

Click here to download above poster from USPS in PDF. Stay safe, j & B


What would YOU do if a bomb or explosive device goes off…? (Safety tips on dealing with an explosion)

April 15, 2013

Today’s Monday Musing is a somber one. This afternoon two small bombs detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon about 4 hours into the race. According to news reports at least 2 other devices were discovered and dismantled by local bomb squads.

Boston marathon bomb

Eyewitness Roupen Bastajian, a 35-year-old state trooper from R.I. who had just finished running the marathon, said “…a lot of people were amputated. … At least 25 to 30 people have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing.” As of this writing there have been 3 deaths and over 130 injuries.

As we’ve seen for many decades, terrorists have frequently used explosive devices as one of their most common weapons. Thankfully Americans haven’t had to deal with too many mass casualty bombing situations, but many countries see these types of incidents on a weekly or monthly basis.

victim at Boston Marathon bombingUnfortunately there are many “how-to” manuals available online and in books so it’s very easy for bad people and nutjob pukes to make bombs and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) in various shapes and sizes.

Explosive devices are very portable, using vehicles and humans as a means of transport, and they can be easily detonated from remote locations or by suicide bombers. Oftentimes terrorists pack bombs with ball bearings, screws, nails, nuts or other metal pieces to try to inflict as much carnage and chaos as possible.

Besides being vigilant  and having good situational awareness, there are some things people can do to prepare for and respond to an explosive device or incident.

BEFORE ANY TYPE OF EXPLOSION OR INCIDENT:

Be aware & watch – Sounds simple and it is. Stay current on news, alerts and threats – but don’t obsess over them – then start making a habit of being aware of your surroundings. You don’t have to be paranoid or obvious – just make a mental note of the EXITS when you go to places and watch for things that look strange or out of place especially if you walk or drive the same route day after day.

Make a kit – Make disaster supplies kits for your home, office, locker and car. Pack things like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries, medicines (if needed), a change of clothes, comfortable shoes, some toiletries, tools, etc.

Have a plan – Check emergency plans for schools, day care and nursing home to find out where everyone goes if evacuated.

Report strange things – Again, be aware of your surroundings — watch for strange or suspicious packages, abandoned briefcases or backpacks and report suspicious activities to local authorities.

Stay current on threats – The Department of Homeland Security www.dhs.gov and Public Safety Canada www.publicsafety.gc.ca post alerts and news about national security online. And of course read or watch local news to find out what’s going on in your area.

Be ready to evacuate – Listen to authorities — if told to leave – DO it!

Learn first aid – Take a basic first aid and CPR class … or join a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team)

DURING AN EXPLOSION:

Don’t panic… – Stay calm and don’t stop to retrieve personal items or make phone calls – get to a safe place.

Things to watch out for:
•  falling objects – if things are falling off bookshelves or from the ceiling get under a sturdy table or desk
 flying debris – many blast injuries are caused by flying glass, metal, ball bearings and other materials
•  fires – stay below the smoke (crawl or walk like a duck)
– only use the stairs (don’t use elevators)
– check doors with back of hand before opening  (If HOT, do NOT open .. find another exit!)
•  weak structures – be careful since floors, stairs, roofs or walls might be weakened by the blast

If indoors – Stay put if building is not damaged but leave if warned of any radiation or chemical inside. Cover nose and mouth and find shelter in a building not damaged by blast and prepare to “shelter-in-place”, if necessary.

If outdoors – Cover mouth and nose with a cloth or handkerchief and take shelter in a safe building as quickly as possible!

If in a vehicle – Keep windows up, close vents, use “recirculating” air in case of airborne threats, and keep listening to radio for updates. If possible, drive away from site.

AFTER AN EXPLOSION:

If you are trapped in an area:
•  light – use a flashlight – never use matches or lighters in case there are gas leaks
•  be still – try to stay still so you won’t kick up dust
•  breathing – cover your mouth with a piece of clothing
•  make noise – tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can hear you (shouting may cause you to inhale a lot of dust)

Rescuing others – Untrained persons should not try to rescue people who are inside a collapsed building… wait for emergency personnel to arrive – then, if they need you, they will ask.

Avoid crowds – Be aware large crowds may be targeted for another attack.

Limited services – Cellular service and towers may get overwhelmed after an incident so realize you may have limited access. And officials may cut off mobile service around an attack site to prevent further remote detonations of explosive devices.

Be ready to evacuate – Listen to authorities — if told to leave due to another threat, attack or explosion – do it!

Stay away – Avoid the scene(s) as much as possible. There will be a heavy law enforcement involvement at local, state and federal levels following a terrorist attack due to the event’s criminal nature. Also realize that health and mental health and Fire/EMS resources in the affected communities may be strained or overwhelmed.

Stay current on news – Listen to updates but again, don’t obsess over an event. Extensive media coverage can be overwhelming so try to go about your daily routines and always be aware of your surroundings.

Above extracted from our IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? book 

Also review some tips on what to do if you receive a bomb threat or suspicious package. j & B


How to protect yourself from nuclear fallout (tips about radiation, building an expedient shelter, etc)

April 13, 2013

nuclear bombNo one wants to think about a nuclear crisis – and hopefully it will never happen – but we all must accept the fact nuclear tensions are rising globally with North Korea (plus Iran, Al-Qaeda and others are seeking nukes) so we should prepare ourselves and our loved ones in the event the unthinkable strikes our soil.

For decades, movies and some in the media have portrayed a nuclear attack as a “doomsday” event implying most people would be killed on impact … and survivors would want to die once they come out of their shelters.

In reality, unless you are actually at ground zero or within a several mile radius of the blast zone (depending on the size of the nuke, of course), there is a very high probability you’ll survive as long as you…

  • limit your exposure to radiation,
  • take shelter with proper shielding, and
  • wait for the most dangerous radioactive materials to decay.

In other words, you CAN survive a nuke attack … but you MUST make an effort to learn what to do! By learning about potential threats, we are all better prepared to know how to react if something happens.

Please realize this is being written with small nuke devices in mind (like a 1-kiloton to 1-megaton device). A larger device, ICBM or a nuclear war would cause more wide-spread damage but some of this data could still be helpful. These are some very basic tips on sheltering for any type of nuclear (or radiological) incident.

(Note: This topic is covered more in-depth in our IT’S A DISASTER! book, but these are some important steps that can help you and your loved ones survive a nuclear or radiological incident.)

What happens when a nuke explodes?

A nuclear blast produces a blinding light, intense heat (called thermal radiation), initial nuclear radiation, 2 explosive shock waves (blasts), mass fires, and radioactive fallout (residual nuclear radiation).

The below graphic shows the destruction of a test home by an atomic blast on March 17, 1953 at the Nevada Proving Ground. The structure was located 3,500 feet from ground zero, and the time from the first to last picture was 2.3 seconds.  It shows the force of the blast wave then the radiating energy set it on fire. (See more nuke test photos in our Fire in the Sky post.)

Also, if a nuke is launched over our continent and explodes miles above the earth, it could create an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). An EMP is a split-second silent energy burst (like a stroke of lightning) that can fry electronics connected to wires or antennas like cell phones, cars, computers, TVs, etc. Unless electronics are grounded or hardened, an area or nation could experience anything from minor interference to crippled power, transportation, banking and communications systems.

An EMP from a high-altitude nuke (where a nation or group succeeds in detonating a nuclear device carried miles into the atmosphere) could affect electronics within 1,000 miles or more as shown below. (Evidence suggests some countries and groups are working on enhanced and non-nuclear EMP weapons or e-bombs.)

high altitude emp or electromagnetic pulse threat

What is the most dangerous part of a nuclear attack?

Both the initial nuclear radiation and residual nuclear radiation (also called radioactive fallout) are extremely dangerous.

Initial nuclear radiation is penetrating invisible rays that can be lethal in high levels.

Radioactive fallout (residual nuclear radiation) is created when the fireball vaporizes everything inside it (including dirt and water). Vaporized materials mix with radioactive materials in the updraft of air forming a mushroom cloud.

Fallout can be carried by winds for hundreds of miles and begin falling to the ground within minutes of the blast or take hours, days, weeks or even months to fall. The heaviest fallout would hit ground zero and areas downwind of that, and 80% of fallout would occur within 24 hours. Most fallout looks like grey sand or gritty ash and the radiation given off cannot be seen, smelled, tasted or felt which is why it is so dangerous. But as the materials decay or spread out radiation levels will drop.

More about radiation

Types of radiation – Nuclear radiation has 3 main types of radiation…

  • alpha – can be shielded by a sheet of paper or by human skin. If alpha particles are inhaled, ingested, or enter body through a cut, they can cause damage to tissues and cells.
  • beta – can be stopped by skin or a thicker shield (like wood). Beta particles can cause serious damage to internal organs if ingested or inhaled, and could cause eye damage or possible skin burns.
  • gamma – most dangerous since gamma rays can penetrate the entire body and cause cell damage throughout your organs, blood and bones. Since radiation does not stimulate nerve cells you may not feel anything while your body absorbs it. Exposure to high levels of gamma rays can lead to radiation sickness or death, which is why it is critical to seek shelter from fallout in a facility with thick shielding!

Radiation detection devices – You cannot see, smell, taste or feel radiation, but special instruments can detect even the smallest levels of radiation. Since it may take days or weeks before First Responders could get to you, consider having these devices handy during a crisis or attack since they could save your life.

survey meter radiation detection device

 

   survey meter – measures rate of exposure or intensity of radiation at that specific location if you stayed there for an hour … like a speedometer in a car (cost: $300-$1,000+)

dosimeter radiation detection devicedosimeter – a pen-like device you can wear that measures total dose or accumulated exposure to radiation as you move around (needs a charger too). Dosimeters cost about $45-$65+ each and some dealers offer 3 dosimeters + a charger for about $240 or so.

Kearny Fallout Meter or KFM kit

 

  KFM kit – (Kearny Fallout Meter) measures radiation more accurately than most instruments since it’s charged electrostatically. Find plans online or available as a low-cost kit ($40-$75). And it’s a great science project for kids.

NukAlert radiation detection device

NukAlert – a patented personal radiation meter, monitor and alarm small enough to fit on a key chain. The unit warns you with chirping sounds if it detects radiation. (cost: $145 – $160)

RADsticker measures radiation levels

 

    RADsticker – postage stamp sized card (cost: $2-$5 ea)

Measuring radiation – Radiation was measured in units called roentgens (pronounced “rent-gens” and abbreviated as “R”) … or “rads” or “rem”. An EPA document called “Planning Guidance for Response to A Nuclear Detonation 2nd Edition June 2010” explains … 1 R (exposure in air) ≅ 1 rad (absorbed dose) ≅ 1 rem (whole-body dose). Although many measuring devices and older documentation use R and rem, officials and the media now use sievert (Sv) which is the System International or SI unit of measurement of radiation. The formula to convert sieverts to rems is quite simple … 1 Sv = 100 R (rem).

How many rads are bad? – High doses of radiation in a short span of time can cause radiation sickness or even death, but if that high dose is spread out over a long period of time, it’s not as bad.

According to FEMA, an adult could tolerate and recover from an exposure to 150R (1.5 Sv) over a week or 300R (3 Sv) over a 4-month period. But 300R (3 Sv) over a week could cause sickness or possibly death. Exposure to 30R (0.3 Sv) to 70R (0.7 Sv) over a week may cause minor sickness, but a full recovery would be expected. But radioactive fallout decays rapidly so staying in a shelter with proper shielding is critical!

The “seven-ten” rule – For every sevenfold increase in time after the initial blast, there is a tenfold decrease in the radiation rate. For example, a 500 rad level can drop to 50R in just 7 hours and down to 5R after 2 days (49 hours). In other words, if you have shelter with good shielding and stay put for even just 7 hours … you’ve really increased your chances of survival. Your detection devices, emergency radio or cell phone [if the last 2 are working, that is] can assist you in knowing when it’s safe to come out.

So how do I protect myself and my family?

Basic shelter requirements – Whether you build a shelter in advance or throw together an expedient last-minute shelter during a crisis, the area should protect you from radiation and support you for at least 2 weeks. Some basic requirements for a fallout shelter include …

  • shielding
  • ventilation
  • water and food
  • sanitation and first aid products
  • radiation monitoring devices, KI (potassium iodide), radio, weapons, tools, etc

Reduce exposure – Protect yourself from radioactive fallout with …

  • distance – the more distance between you and fallout particles, the better
  • shielding – heavy, dense materials (like thick walls, earth, concrete, bricks, water and books) between you and fallout is best. Stay indoors or below ground. (Taking shelter in a basement or a facility below ground reduces exposure by 90%. Less than 4 inches of soil or earth can reduce the penetration of dangerous gamma rays by half.)
  • time – most fallout loses its strength quickly. The more time that passes after the attack, the lower the danger.

Indoor shelter locations – If you don’t have a fallout shelter, these options could provide protection from dangerous radiation by using proper shielding materials.

  • basement – find the corner that is most below ground level (the further underground the better)
  • 1-story home / condo / apartment – if no underground facility, find a spot in center of home away from windows
  • trailer home – find sturdier shelter if possible (like a basement or brick or concrete building)
  • multi-story building or high-rise – go to center of the middle section of building (above 9th floor if possible). Note: if rooftop of a building next to you is on that same floor, move one floor up or down since radioactive fallout would accumulate on rooftops. Avoid first floor (if possible) since fallout will pile up on ground outside.

Make an expedient shelter – Some very basic ways to build an expedient last-minute shelter in your home, apartment or workplace to help protect you from dangerous radiation include…

  • Set up a large, sturdy workbench or table in location you’ve chosen. If no table, make one by putting doors on top of boxes, appliances or furniture.
  • Put as much shielding (e.g. furniture, file cabinets, appliances, boxes or pillowcases filled with dirt or sand, boxes of food, water or books, concrete blocks, bricks, etc.) all around sides and on top of table, but don’t put too much weight on tabletop or it could collapse. Add reinforcing supports, if needed.
  • Leave a crawl space so everyone can get inside and block opening with shielding materials.
  • Leave 2 small air spaces for ventilation (about 4-6″ each) – one low at one end and one high at other end. (This allows for better airflow since warm air rises.)
  • Have water, radiation detection devices, KI, battery operated radio, food and sanitation supplies in case you have to shelter in place for days or weeks.

build an expedient shelter for protection from radioactive fallout

In summary, those within the blast zone of Ground Zero (depending on the size of the nuke) won’t make it .. BUT .. if you are a few miles outside the zone your chances of surviving it are high but you MUST have detection devices to monitor levels of radiation and a plan to stay sheltered for at least 48 hours or up to a few weeks. First Responders will have to wait for the deadly fallout to decay before they enter a hot zone so the more you prepare, the better your odds of surviving a terrorist nuke.

As mentioned earlier, our 266-page IT’S A DISASTER! book explains more about nuclear incidents and many other disasters, emergencies and basic first aid … and we discount our $14.99 paperback down to $4.50 US each (on 10 or more copies) or PDF ebook is only $3 US. Plus we customize our products for free.

Learn more at www.itsadisaster.net or call Fedhealth at 520.907.2153 (7a-4p Pacific M–F) for more information.

Stay safe, j & B

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